Argumentation for digital history stumbles over the ontology of its evidence. I’m writing here about corpus-scale analysis, the digital methodology I know best from my work on the Viral Texts project, and variously named by terms like “distant reading” or “cultural analytics.” Though the specifics of these methods are hotly debated, we might gather them…

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In “Publication, Power, and Patronage: On Inequality and Academic Publishing,” Chad Wellmon and Andrew Piper motivate their study in a laudable spirit: they seek to expose and root out elitism in the name of a more egalitarian and truly meritocratic academy.[1] That the study at the same time makes a claim for more studies of…

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Kellen Funk and I have co-authored an article titled “The Spine of American Law: Digital Text Analysis and U.S. Legal Practice.” The article has been recently accepted for publication in the American Historical Review. It is currently scheduled for the February 2018 issue. Here is our abstract. In the second half of the nineteenth century, the…

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Unlike print, the form of digital projects has a direct bearing on the ideas they convey. Not too long ago we used word processors to write documents on computers. The act of writing itself was called “word processing.” The excitement around the revolutionary new technology (first electric typewriters, then computer applications) inspired a new name…

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In light of word embeddings’ recent popularity, I’ve been playing around with a version called Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA). Admittedly, LSA has fallen out of favor with the rise of neural embeddings like Word2Vec, but there are several virtues to LSA including decades of study by linguists and computer scientists. (For an introduction to LSA…

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